Businessman Airton Antonio Soligo, known as Airton Cascavel, did not add any information to the senators of the Covid Parliamentary Inquiry Commission (CPI) in his testimony this Thursday (4).
He is being investigated for alleged usurpation of public function when he participated in activities restricted to actors in the Ministry of Health, between April and June, during the transition of minister in the Health portfolio, between Nelson Teich and General Eduardo Pazuello.
Cascavel was only appointed on June 23, as a special advisor to the minister of Health, to act as a link between the ministry, the National Congress and the federative entities.
According to Wellington Divino Marques de Oliveira, attorney general of the Republic investigating the case, he “would have presented himself as responsible for intermediating the demands sent by the state and municipal health secretariats” during the covid-19 pandemic.
“It was registered that the news [Cascavel] was listed at a meeting held between the Minister of Health and Federal Deputy Eduardo Bolsonaro. Furthermore, prints containing references to Airton Cascavel as ‘the number 02 of the health ministry’ were attached to the news, as well as another containing photos and confirming Airton’s participation in actions taken by the Ministry of Health,” Oliveira wrote when he asked for an inquiry to the Federal Police (PF) to investigate the case.
The investigation was opened on July 8 of this year, after a representation made by the PT’s national president, federal deputy Gleisi Hoffmann.
In his testimony to the CPI, Airton Cascavel denied that he had acted in an irregular manner. He was invited by Teich to take over as Special Advisor.
Before the hiring was made official, however, the minister left the portfolio, and the nomination was presented by his successor, General Pazuello. For Cascavel, his presence in the Ministry of Health was justified due to his influence between states and municipalities, as he was already president of the National Council of Municipal Health Secretariats (Conasems).
“You were in the scope of the Ministry of Health, receiving mayors, governors, senators, without a designated public function. There is a crime, a penal type for this”, says Randolfe Rodrigues (Rede-AP), vice president of the CPI, on the crime of usurpation of public service. The senator even stated that many government officials and parliamentarians attributed to Cascavel the Executive Secretariat of the Ministry.
Political dialogue for the acquisition of vaccines
Regarding the period in which he was in the portfolio, Cascavel worked in the development of the acquisition of the vaccine from the Butantan Institute, CoronaVac, in partnership with the Chinese laboratory Sinovac.
“The big problem with the Brazilian vaccine was politicization. This issue has become politicized, the issue of Butantan. And then the political dialogue. At that moment I will treat together. I was sent to São Paulo in the role of interlocutor to deal with this necessary approach”, said Cascavel to the senators.
In the same way that the federal government refused seven offers of immunizations from the American pharmaceutical company Pfizer, produced in partnership with the German laboratory BioNtech, the government stopped negotiations established by the Ministry of Health with the Butantan Institute, based on the third offer of the CoronaVac vaccine, manufactured together with the Chinese laboratory Sinovac.
The stoppage occurred after President Jair Bolsonaro spoke on April 21 during a visit to a Navy military center in Iperó (SP).
“There was a distortion on the part of João Doria regarding what he said. He has a protocol of intentions, I have already ordered it canceled if he [Pazuello] signed. I already had it cancelled. I’m the president, I don’t give up my authority. Even because I would be buying a vaccine that no one is interested in, except us,” said Bolsonaro.
Then, the then minister Eduardo Pazuello stated that “when one commands, the other obeys”.
For Soligo, the politicization of the vaccine was the reason that stopped the negotiations for the acquisition of immunizers against covid-19. He does not say, however, who was responsible for such politicization. Apparently, their political dialogue was not enough to acquire the doses of Butantan, even in 2020.
“Did you not see any of this?”
Already with the CPI heading to the end, Airton Cascavel confirmed that he received “insistently” messages from Luiz Paulo Dominguetti, representative of Davati Medical Supply, with the intention of selling vaccines, but ignored the seller. “For me it was swindling,” said the businessman.
Senator Eliziane Gama (Cidadania-MA) questioned how Cascavel did not realize who Dominguetti was and what was happening within the Ministry of Health.
Dominghetti told senators that Roberto Ferreira Dias, former director of Logistics at the Ministry of Health, charged a bribe of US$ 1 per dose of vaccine, during the negotiation of 400 million units of the immunizing agent produced by the British laboratory AstraZeneca, in partnership with the University of Oxford.
The value presented by Dominghetti would have been $3.50 per dose. With the bribe, Dias suggested that he charge $4.50 per dose.
“He always said that if the value was not increased, there would be no contract”, said Dominghetti in relation to the behavior of Roberto Ferreira Dias. “When I said no [ao pedido de propina], came the surprise from the other side”, he said about the reaction of colonel Marcelo Blanco and Roberto Ferreira Dias.
To senators, Dominghetti said that the request for bribes was made, on February 25, during a dinner at Vasto restaurant, in Brasília Shopping. With Dias, the reserve lieutenant colonel, Marcelo Blanco, Dias’ former advisor, and José Ricardo Santana, who also worked in the Ministry of Health’s Logistics Department, were present.
Edition: Leandro Melito